Edinburgh's new eye hospital: Patients tell how they feel 'let down' by Scottish Government failure to fund replacement for Eye Pavilion

One patient says state of Edinburgh’s current Eye Pavilion ‘just adds to stress levels’
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Patients say they feel “let down” by the Scottish Government’s failure to provide funding for Edinburgh’s promised new eye hospital.

The Scottish Budget two weeks ago made no mention of the replacement for the not-fit-for-purpose Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, despite expectations of an update on the government’s review of spending on major projects. But since then the Evening News has revealed that the government has told health boards there will be no funding for new capital projects for at least the next two years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lorna Pratt, who has vision impairment and is a regular visitor to the Eye Pavilion, criticised the decision saying so many people feel let down. She said: “The decision is just so disappointing, there are so many people who will continue to suffer due to this outdated facility. The staff do their best in difficult circumstances, but it is obvious to everyone that a new eye hospital is desperately needed.”

Facilities at Edinburgh's current Eye Pavilion are 'cramped and dated' and the building 'just adds to your stress levels and feelings of angst', according to patients.  Picture: Greg Macvean.Facilities at Edinburgh's current Eye Pavilion are 'cramped and dated' and the building 'just adds to your stress levels and feelings of angst', according to patients.  Picture: Greg Macvean.
Facilities at Edinburgh's current Eye Pavilion are 'cramped and dated' and the building 'just adds to your stress levels and feelings of angst', according to patients. Picture: Greg Macvean.

Lorna, from Edinburgh, was diagnosed with Keratoconus in 1974 and has had four corneal grafts since 1989. She also has glaucoma and has had three surgeries associated with this and has had two cataract operations, two rounds of refractive surgery and is waiting for laser treatment.

“I usually attend the Eye Pavilion every three months or so but sometimes it can be every few days. This hospital was state of the art when it was constructed in the 1960s, but a lot of things have changed since then. One of the main problems is that it was built for in-patients. Day surgery was not a factor then and the sheer volume of current outpatients was not envisaged. So it just doesn’t have the capacity to cope.

“The doctors are trying to see an incredible number of outpatients, which means the outpatient department is very overcrowded with clinics on different floors, some are even held in the Lauriston building across the road. On one occasion, I came to the hospital as an outpatient and had tests, and then was escorted by a member of staff to the basement of the Lauriston building across the road only to find they had done the wrong tests, so I had to go all the way back and do it all again. The outpatient facilities are so cramped and dated which makes it so uncomfortable to visit, especially when you are such a regular visitor like me.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The building and the surgical ward are just dated and not suitable for someone with a vision impairment. I was there last summer and had very poor vision at the time, and everything was white. It was if I was in a blizzard, the walls are white, the bed linen is white, the toilets are white, the wash hand basins are white. My daughter had to bring in neon masking tape to put on things like the light switches and the basins so I could find my way around. Another problem is that the surgical ward has only two toilets for women, and there is a shower in there as well. If the shower floods the toilets are closed and you are forced to go to the other end of the building where the disabled toilet is located.

“Other problems include there is no air conditioning, so it gets unbearably hot in the summer when the sun pours in all the windows. The lifts are old and slow, the lockers are pretty much unusable for most people, and there is an awful lot of glass which causes so much glare which is a real problem for many people with vision impairment who are very sensitive to the light.

“A new hospital would make an enormous difference to me and to so many other people. I have a lot more treatments in the pipeline, and it would have been amazing to think I could go to a facility where I would feel comfortable instead of vulnerable and full of dread.”

Another long-standing patient, Iain Young, an RAF veteran from East Lothian, developed suspected Stargardt disease in his 50s, causing flashing lights and big holes in his vision. He has been in the diagnostic process for 10 years due to doctors struggling to confirm a diagnosis..

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: “As a regular visit to the eye hospital I know first-hand how much we need an upgrade. Quite simply the building has passed it sell by date, the facilities are grim, there is always some kind of problem every time you visit, whether that is flooding or leaks. The lack of car parking is also shocking – I come from East Lothian, so what should be a 40-minute drive for my wife and me, becomes an over two-hour expedition.

“It is so traumatic and difficult losing your sight, you are in such a vulnerable and emotional state that you deserved to be looked after well. Currently the building just adds to your stress levels and feelings of angst.

"As a veteran who has served his country I am absolutely appalled by this decision, it’s disgraceful, everyone with an eye condition is getting treated so poorly here.”